By Cole Moldenhauer
From seed to harvest, a vegetable plant’s journey is a long one. Minnesota’s climate offers a shorter growing season which requires us to use a process known as transplant. Speeding up the course of our growing season will allow the produce to bear fruit for all to enjoy.
Why do we start a transplant?
The reason for starting transplants in our greenhouses is because of the short growing season in the state of Minnesota. We do not have ample time to plant the actual seed in the field allowing it to fully mature before our temperatures fall to freezing. We must “start” the seeds in the warmth of our greenhouse 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Some seeds require a shorter growing season not needing an early start including squash, beans, peas and radish to name a few. Plants requiring longer growing seasons are tomatoes, peppers and even cabbage to ensure they will mature and produce their respective crop.
In the warmth of our greenhouses, thousands of tiny cabbage and pepper transplants grow waiting for the day they can be transplanted into the field. Over a period of time, these transplants are introduced to the outdoor environment where they will spend the remainder of their growing life. This process is known as “hardening off” and is achieved by gradually dropping the temperature in the greenhouse and opening the sides exposing the plants to the outside elements. This is key to the success of the plant, making sure it will not go through “transplant shock” which can cause the plant to drag behind or even die.
These initial processes may very well be the most important part of the growing season. A good seed, healthy transplant and well cared for crop is sure to produce our favorite part of the summer………..Pahl’s locally grown fruits and vegetables!